Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 17
Suggested Emphasis: Trust the Lord.
David’s older brothers went to fight battles with King Saul while David stayed home and cared for his father’s sheep. When David went to take food to his brothers he was appalled to find that the whole army was afraid of the Philistines. Every day a huge soldier, Goliath, came forward and mocked the Lord and his army. David trusted in the Lord’s strength and knew that the Lord would help him defeat Goliath. David used his sling and killed Goliath with a stone right between his eyes.
David’s conquering Goliath was a turning point in David’s life. The events of 1 Samuel 17 probably occurred after David played his harp to soothe Saul (1 Samuel 16:18-20, 23; 1 Samuel 17:15) but before he was one of Saul’s armour-bearers (1 Samuel 16:21, 22).
The Philistines, who were the Israelites’ enemies during the reign of King Saul, worshipped many gods. They did not respect the Lord God of Israel.
The Philistines had a heavily guarded secret that made their army superior to that of the Israelites – they knew how to make iron. This secret was so closely guarded that people from other nations would travel many miles to the Philistine metal workers and pay huge sums of money just to purchase ploughs or tools made of iron to use on their farms. The bronze and copper swords used by the Israelite army were not match for the stronger iron swords and weapons used by the Philistines.
Until Saul became king of Israel, there was no official Israelite army. There were farmers and shepherds who only grouped together to fight when they were attacked. King Saul kept a small army of about 3000 men. Whenever the situation called for more soldiers, Saul would send a message to each tribe to send men (who were untrained) to help out.
It was common practice in ancient times for two nations preparing to fight to make their camps near the battlefield. At daybreak, if all went as usual, the two armies would line up facing each other on the battlefield. The commanders would order the attack, and the battle would continue until one army killed or drove off the other army. Israel and King Saul were prepared for this type of battle.
The Philistines wanted a different type of battle. The giant, Goliath, proposed that one man of Israel fight him to determine which nation was superior. Every day for forty days, twice a day, Goliath came down into the valley between the two armies and challenged an Israelite to come and fight him. But the Israelites were afraid of him.
This was not a new thing Goliath was proposing – having one champion fight for the entire army. But when ancients did this, they tried to use such formidable war equipment that the challenger had the advantage from the beginning. And Goliath was a terrifying sight! His description indicates that he was more than nine feet tall, wore a bronze coat of armour (like fish scales) that weighted 125 pounds, a bronze helmet for his head and bronze greaves that protected his legs from knees to ankles, and he carried a huge javelin (spear) as his weapon that had an iron point weighing about 15 pounds. In addition, an armour-bearer walked in front of him (probably another giant.)
When David saw and heard Goliath, he was indignant! David wanted to fight Goliath, but he had to overcome some obstacles: the army’s fear, his brother’s insults, Saul’s discouragement, and the fact that Goliath really was better equipped. When David heard Goliath’s challenge, he was outraged that this heathen should dare to challenge the Lord’s army. He was even more upset that no one trusted God enough to accept the challenge. So he went to King Saul and said that with God’s help he would defeat Goliath. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord was evident in David’s manner because King Saul was convinced by David’s trust in God.
Evidently Goliath felt disdain for this shepherd coming to fight him in the name of the Lord. David was very proficient with a sling. After acknowledging that God was his helper, David hit the giant on the forehead with a stone. The giant fell, and David ran to him, pulled out Goliath’s sword, killed him with it, and cut off his head. The Philistine army ran away, and God’s people were triumphant.
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- What happens after this story?
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Way to Introduce the Story:
Bring a measuring tape to class today. Let the children measure to see how high the ceiling is. If one of the walls is nine feet tall then mark that height. “How would you like to be that tall? Did you know that there was someone in the bible who was even taller than that? We are going to talk about him today.”
Even though God had chosen David to be the next king, people did not know about him yet. David knew that the Lord would tell him when it was the right time to be king. For now, Saul was still the king of Israel.
Saul led his army to battle against their enemies, the Philistines. The Philistines did not believe in God and they did not like God’s people. The Philistines wanted to kill the Israelites.
King Saul’s army made their camp on one hill and the Philistine army made their camp on the other hill. There was a valley in between them. Every morning and every evening a huge Philistine named Goliath would come into the valley and yell to the Israelites.
“The Philistines are better than the Israelites,” Goliath would shout. “Choose a man and have him come down and fight me. If he can kill me then we will become your slaves. If I kill him then the Israelites must become slaves to the Philistines.”
Goliath did this every day for forty days. The Israelites were very frightened and no one wanted to fight the giant man. He was over nine feet tall and he had a bronze helmet and bronze armour. He had a huge spear and he even had a servant who walked in front of him carrying a shield.
David was not in Saul’s army. He still stayed out in his father’s pastures taking care of sheep. David’s three oldest brothers did fight with Saul, though. Their father, Jesse, would often send David to take food and supplies to the three brothers.
This time, when David arrived at the army’s camp with supplies he was very surprised at what he saw. He arrived just in time to see Goliath come out and make his challenge. David could not believe that anyone would talk about God in such a bad way. David knew that God was stronger than Goliath. God is stronger than anyone! David heard some of the soldiers say that whoever was brave enough to fight Goliath would win many prizes from King Saul. His father would never have to pay taxes to the king. The king would let the winner marry his daughter and he would give him great wealth. When David started asking the soldiers about Goliath, his brothers overheard him and became angry.
Why don’t you just go back to watching the sheep.” they said. “Let us fight the battles.”
But David had an idea. David went to King Saul and told him that he wanted to fight Goliath. David told the king how that the Lord always helped him. When a bear had carried off one of his father’s sheep, David had chased it and hit it. The bear died. The Lord had also given him the strength to fight lions when they tried to kill the sheep.
“I know I am not a soldier but I know that God will help me fight the giant. I trust in God and God is stronger than any bears, lions, giants or spears.”
King Saul listened to what David said. Saul believed David when he said he trusted in God. King Saul told David that he could fight Goliath. He even gave David his own armour and sword. But when David tried them on and tried walking around him knew that he could not wear the king’s armour. He had never been trained to use them and they only made it hard for him to walk. David decided to fight Goliath using only his sling.
David went down to a stream and collected five smooth stones. With a sling, stones, and trust in the Lord, David was ready to face the enemy.
When Goliath saw David he started making fun of him. He also started making fun of God. He told David that he would kill him and feed him to the birds.
David still trusted in the Lord. He told Goliath, “You come against me with sword and spear but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today I will kill you and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”
As Goliath moved closer to attack David, David ran toward him quickly and put one of the stones in his sling. He swung the swing round and round and released the stone straight at Goliath’s forehead. The stone hit Goliath and he fell to the ground. David killed Goliath with Goliath’s own sword.
When the Philistines saw that a boy had killed Goliath, their hero, they all began to run away. The army of Israel won the battle. They won because David trusted in the Lord.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
- Who was the giant that made fun of God and the Israelite army? Goliath
- Who killed Goliath? David
- How did David kill Goliath? He used his sling to hit Goliath on the forehead with a small stone.
- How was a boy able to kill a giant? He trusted in the Lord
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Make a sling and go outside and find 5 smooth stones. Practice shooting the sling.
- Draw a large picture of Goliath on the chalk/white board with a bulls-eye on his forehead. Let the children throw Ping-Pong balls at it.
- Measure off the actual height of Goliath (17:4).
- Bring scales to class and compare the children’s weight with that of Goliath’s armour (17:5-7). Calculate the weights: a shekel is approximately 11.5 grams or 2/5 of an ounce.
- Use bible reference books to look up information and pictures of the weapons and armour.
- Older children might have fun working out sound effects for the story. For review one child can retell the story while others make the sound effects.
- Children can take turns being blindfolded and led around the room by another child. Talk about how the blindfolded person has to trust the leader. We should trust God.
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets at http://calvarycurriculum.org/
- Colouring page at http://www.christiananswers.net/
- Craft: Instructions to make a paper pouch for David’s 5 stones at http://solapublishing.blogspot.co.nz/
- Craft: David puppet at http://www.sundayschoolcrafts.net/
- Craft: Doorknob hanger at http://www.sundayschoolcrafts.net/
- Fill-in-the-blank puzzle (I Samuel 17:45-46) at http://gardenofpraise.com/
- Game: Easy stone toss game. Based on the game “marbles”. Instructions at http://www.dltk-bible.com/
- Game: Pin the stone on Goliath. Instructions at http://www.dltk-bible.com/
- Online activities and games at http://gardenofpraise.com/
- Snack: “Stone” cookies: http://www.churchhousecollection.com/